3 Aug 2013

Sports Direct protests planned over zero hours contracts

Several protests are planned outside Sports Direct shops as anger grows at zero hours contracts. It is claimed the retailer employs 20,000 staff under the policy.

Protests expected outside Sports Direct stores

The demonstrations are planned at stores from Oxford Street in London to Glasgow in Scotland.

Spokesman for Youth Fight for Jobs, Ian Pattison, said 20,000 part-time staff at the chain are on the contracts so do not know how many hours they will work from one week to the next.

It follows news that 270 government staff are employed on zero-hours contracts, despite Nick Clegg warning they cause “worrying levels of insecurity” for workers.

Five ministries admitted having employees working in departments and agencies on contracts that give them no guarantee of a regular income.

Insecure conditions

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “300,000 workers in the care sector alone are employed on these insecure terms and conditions and that is before you factor in sectors like higher education, retail, legal services and journalism.

“From Buckingham Palace to Sports Direct, zero hours contracts are cropping up everywhere and the government’s oft mentioned review must lead to proper regulation to prevent their continued misuse.

“Employers cannot be allowed to take advantage of the current economic climate to employ people as cheap labour.”

It was disclosed earlier this week that the entire part-time staff at retail firm Sports Direct were employed on zero hours contracts.

Ian Brinkley, director at The Work Foundation, said: “The ONS technical revisions of the zero hour contracts data are welcome but the revised figure of 250,000 is still very likely to be a significant under-estimate.

Increasing zero hour contracts

“Estimates based on other data sets and freedom of information requests suggest that in domestic care and the NHS alone there are approaching 400,000 zero hour contracts across the UK.

“We urgently need to bring the various data sources together to get a better idea of the true scale of the use of zero hours contracts and identify where the gaps in our knowledge remain.

“Without a stronger evidence base about both the numbers of zero hours and how they are used in practice it will not be possible to develop good policy responses.”